This recap is late. A longer than expected dinner engagement led to watching the game via DVR and, sadly, having already stumbled across the end result.
Thus, even before Marcus Stroman mowed down the Royals first three hitters of the game via two ground balls and a strikeout, I knew the ending would be unkind. I watched Ian Kennedy strike out the side in the first (albeit while allowing a walk and a single) knowing that doom was coming.
Well…you get the picture.
Kennedy, who entered the game having struck out 19 batters over his last two starts (12 innings) was once again causing opposing batters pain. He recorded six of his first eight outs via the strikeout and had downed nine batters in a row until allowing a suddenly good Michael Saunders’ home run in the fourth.
After Kennedy left after six innings, having allowed another run and notching four more strikeouts, Luke Hochevar then decided to also strikeout the side in the seventh. In fact, when the dust settled, 16 Blue Jays would strikeout on the night.
Sadly, however, Stroman was every bit a match for the Royal hurlers. He allowed nothing – no really, NOTHING – to the Royals until the sixth inning when Brett Eibner (who destroyed the original story line about Ned Yost sitting his hottest hitter) walked and Alcides Escobar tripled. Stroman would still be in the game, finishing with just 85 pitches on the night, in the eighth inning when Eibner would come up again. A 92 mph fastball was ripped over the left field fence to tie the game.
Had I not known the outcome, this writer would have been excited at that point. This was, after all, THE SCENARIO, right? Keep the game close, make it a battle of the bullpens and walk out with a win: that is the Kansas City way. And with Kelvin Herrera coming into pitch? Now we’re playing our game, right?
The Royals All-Star reliever stayed on script to start. Ezequiel Carrera would go down looking on four pitches, the last being a slider. Four pitches was all he needed to get Josh Donaldson swinging…on a slider. That same pitch missed for ball one to Edwin Encarnacion and after the count ran to 3-1 via two changeups and two fastballs, Herrera went back to the slider once more, only to have it doubled to left.
The next four pitches, two changeups and two fastballs, resulted in a single and a double and two runs were in. A slider on the first and third pitch to the next hitter, Troy Tulowitzki, ended the inning on a foul tip strikeout. Even without knowing the game result, I pretty much would have known the game was done at that point.
The Royals had dropped their fifth straight game, a familiar tale when this team plays away from home, with the last three coming to a team that is in the thick of the wild card fight. Too early to think about wild card? You better hope it is, because this sweep did Kansas City no good in that discussion.